crisis-communication-affirm

COVID-19/Coronavirus Communications – What to Do


NOTE: this is a long post – but we thought this information was important

At AFFIRM, we’ve recently been asked by some of our clients to help them with messaging and strategic communications plans surrounding COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus. In the spirit of our Openly Collaborative core value, and the need for guidance on what you can do to help proactively manage this public health crisis, we wanted to share some thoughts on what businesses, non-profits, government agencies and others can do in creating a strategic communications plan. Also, you need to be ready to communicate your response to a situation in which you or one of your employees (or a patron/customer) tests positive for COVID-19 or Coronavirus.

We realize that every organization is different, and every need will be different. Some of the concerns may be the same from audience to audience. However, to get you started, elements of your communications plan should include the following audiences, and speak to what they may be concerned about and how you are addressing it:

Client/Customer Communications

What are you doing to protect customers/clients and employees?

  • Closures/delays/suspended service/limited hours
  • Cleaning/handwashing/protective apparel
  • Options for adjustments in methods of working

What are you doing to keep serving them?

  • Ability/process for working remotely to continue service
  • Use of technology to continue meetings, service
  • Limited business hours (retail or other)
  • Adjustments in pricing or discounts

Employee Communications

What is my employer doing to protect me from contracting COVID-19?

  • Closures/delays/suspended or limited service/limited hours
  • Cleaning/handwashing/protective apparel
  • Options for adjustments in methods of working
  • What should employees do if they feel ill in any way?
  • Stay home/work remotely

What are our benefits/coverage for COVID-19 testing?

  • Where to get tested based on insurance coverage if free public testing is not available
  • Information on free testing (if available)

What happens if I test (or someone in my immediate circle, or another employee tests) positive for COVID-19?

  • Quarantine policies – voluntary or mandatory, length, what’s required before you can come back to work

What kind of health benefit coverage do we have if someone on the plan needs outpatient or inpatient treatment for COVID-19?

  • Who to contact about benefits – broker/HR/other
  • Outline the benefit policy with regard to treatment (if possible), or direct employees where to get this information

What is our sick leave or sick pay policy?

  • Share the policy or direct people to information about the policy
  • Who to contact about the policy if there are questions
  • If it has changed in light of this crisis, share the new policy

What happens if my child’s school or day care is canceled?

  • Share your policy for what employees should do in this situation

 

Vendor/Supplier Communications

Are there any changes in your hours?

What about delivery/shipping/receipt?

Are there people who are out due to illness? Who do you contact instead?

Are there changes in payment schedule or payment?

Cancellation/adjustment of existing/future orders of product or service?

 

Methods/Frequency of Communications

For now, we’d recommend frequent communications – daily if needed, even if you are just letting audiences know you are still looking at/assessing the situation. However, you should be ready to communicate via email, text, website, social media, even U.S. Mail any and every time there is a change or update in:

  • Hours/delay/closure/cancellation
  • Available services or products
  • Policy – employee paid leave, child care, remote working, protective apparel – all HR and benefit-related information
  • Positive COVID-19 results from employees or customers (that you have legally been made aware of)

 

Crisis Communications

An employee or a customer who visits your organization tests positive for COVID-19 or Coronavirus:

Be ready – the public health department may release some information – even if the person isn’t named by public health, it is likely that the person will be required to report it to you as an employer, or it may be shared on social media by those family/friends who know

What is your response? – close your whole business? Quarantine all workers? Quarantine just some? Proactively require all workers to be tested? Decide on what your response will be, and proactively draft communications about these scenarios so you are ready when it happens.

If you need help with your COVID-19 or Coronavirus communications plan, let us know. We will be here, Always Responsive, Extremely Reliable and Absolutely Positive during this extremely difficult and confusing time.


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